Two weeks ago, lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families suing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones recorded a three-hour interview with him, a court-ordered formality that, under normal circumstances, would have remained private until the defamation lawsuit eventually went to trial.
But this case is not normal.
Jones – who was censored by Twitter, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify for his inflammatory rhetoric – has used his Infowars web show to speak publicly about the case and the people who are suing him – families of 10 Sandy Hook victims who were massacred during the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school in 2012. During one show, Jones brought his lawyer on-air to outline their defense strategy.
So on March 29, the Sandy Hook attorneys took the extraordinary step of posting the hours-long deposition of Jones to YouTube – in the spirit of “transparency,” they said.
“Alex Jones has tried to do everything he can to try his case in the media,” said Wesley Ball, one attorney in the team of lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families. Ball said the deposition was part of a motion filed by Jones’ attorneys to ensure there was enough evidence against their client to proceed in the court.
“The best thing we can hope for is to get Alex Jones to trial,” Ball said. For now, he said they prefer to let the evidence and deposition speak for themselves.
The videos, published in two parts, offer a window into Jones’ thoughts on the years-long smear campaign he and his Infowars show waged against the facts of the shooting at Sandy Hook, the integrity of the investigation that followed and the families of the 26 children and educators who were killed.
Most notably, Jones refused to acknowledge whether his actions added to the grief and distress of those who had lost loved ones in the shooting and claimed the lawsuits filed against him were retaliatory for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid in the 2016 election. When shown short video clips of himself from his own TV show, Jones continuously claimed they had been manipulated or taken out of context.
He also blamed his years of misinformation and spin about the massacre on “psychosis.” Jones claimed that years of witnessing “corrupt” governments and institutions made him deeply skeptical of the “mainstream media” and the “agenda hidden behind things.”
“And I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said. “So I think as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong. But they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”
Jones acknowledged that he now believes the shooting happened and that children were killed, even after years of calling the event a “hoax” and survivors “crisis actors” without evidence. But, he said he still believes there was a “coverup.”
“I still have questions about Sandy Hook, but I know people that know some of the Sandy Hook families. They say, ‘No, it’s real’ – people I think are credible. And so over the years, I’ve – you know, especially as it’s become a huge issue, had time to really retrospectively think about it,” Jones said. “And as the whole thing matured, I’ve had a chance to believe that children died, and it’s a tragedy. But there are still real anomalies in the attempt to basically keep it blacked out that generally, when you see that in government, something’s being covered up.”
During the questioning, the Sandy Hook attorneys outlined the main conspiracy theories Jones has broadcast during the last six years and provided evidence debunking each one. Jones acknowledged that some of the so-called anomalies that initially inspired his conspiracy theories were later proven to be false. But he stopped short of taking responsibility for creating those theories; he told the Sandy Hook lawyers he was simply reporting on Internet chatter and providing a platform for the free exchange of ideas.
Jones claimed that the media, corporate lawyers, “the establishment” and the Democratic Party tried to make it seem like he was obsessed with the Sandy Hook massacre and that it was his only “identity.” They “tricked” him into consistently debating it, he said.
“I see the parties that continually bring this up and drag these families through the mud as the real villains, the conscious villains attempting to shore up the First Amendment in the process,” Jones said. “I do not consider myself to be that villain.”
The Sandy Hook lawyers said the deposition was part of a series of them they are taking that will help the judge decide if there is enough evidence to move the case forward. If that happens, lawyers from both sides will have an opportunity to take additional depositions in preparation for a trial to determine if Jones caused the victims’ families undue harm.
During the deposition, Jones was posed this question: “Mr. Jones, are you finally prepared to admit that you have, indeed, caused these families a substantial amount of pain?” attorney Mark Bankston asked. “Are you prepared to admit that?”
“I am not prepared to sign on to whatever you and the mainstream media make up about me,” Jones said.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Katie Mettler